Today, the Monitor begins an occasional series following two couples who represent the thousands of poor black families who make profound differences in the lives of children who have lost their parents to AIDS in South Africa. While government bears the responsibility for programs related to HIV, it is often individual families, like those of Celina and Pule Seloma and Olga and Pontsho Monamodi, who stretch their resources to keep a young generation from slipping through the cracks of society.
The Monamodis, who live in Tshipesong, have taken in six children from two family members who have died of AIDS. The Selomas have brought one 4-year-old boy, who has recently been diagnosed with HIV and has started treatments, into their Dobsonville home. That puts the families on the front lines of a battle that is overwhelming South Africa, which has the most AIDS orphans in the world.
Social workers in Roodepoort, a modest neighborhood between Johannesburg and the black township of Soweto, put the Monitor in touch with these couples. Both have experienced heartbreak. But their stories also tell of hidden strengths that World Bank reports and government statisticians can't measure. Living close to the poverty line, they draw on resources of faith and persistence, African traditions of generosity, and love. It is through them that one can see the challenges – and the hope of lasting change.
GROUPS HELPING AIDS ORPHANS
Roodepoort Child Welfare Agency,
45 Du Toit Street,
Fax +27 11 763 3317,
[Editor's note: In the original version of this story, the email address was incorrect.]